Packaging Large Components

Delivery is a lot harder than most people think. From pizzas to airplanes, even when you do everything right in your shop, if the delivery isn’t top-notch, you can end up with a compromised product and less-than-enthusiastic customers.

One of our business partners manufactures aircraft components, and sometimes those pieces can get pretty large. Recently they asked us to take a look at the way they were packing a particularly large piece for shipment. It was almost 18 feet long, and each time they sent one out they had to custom-build a crate around it. Not only was this process time consuming, but when the piece was unpacked, it wasn’t uncommon to find out that it had been damaged during transit or the unpacking process. We love big challenges at Western Industries, and even though this one was a bit bigger than most, it was a challenge we were happy to accept.

Right off the bat, we knew that we wanted a re-usable container with easy access. Factory staff wouldn’t have to custom-build these containers each time, saving valuable labor dollars. Handling during the loading and unloading process introduced too many opportunities for damage, so that’s where we would focus our attention next.

We kept the basic shape of the crate, but we replaced the wooden panels across the top with a weather-resistant, fiber-reinforced material that provided a longer life to the crate. Across the bottom we added a more robust base to keep the crate from flexing. The central part of the design change, however, was adding a hinged door. When this door dropped down, it became a ramp. Why a ramp, you ask? We needed a ramp because of our next big design change.

In the old crating system, the component was difficult to secure inside the crate, and the excessive handling required to get it in and out exposed it to potential damage. We opted to create a castere skid that could be easily rolled in and out of the crate. The component could be strapped down to the skid to ensure that it was fully secured while the staff still had easy access to it. This also made it easy to reuse the crate, because it wouldn’t need to be partially disassembled each time the contents had to be removed.

By the time we had completed our redesign, we were able to work with our client to reduce the material cost of each crate by 20% while the construction time of the crates was reduced by four hours. More importantly, this new design protected the contents of the crate, leading to fewer repair costs and more happy customers.

Is there a way that Western Industries can help your company be the best version of itself? Show us where you’d like to do better, and we’ll put our team of engineers and analysts to work to optimize your warehouse, packaging, and processes.


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